Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ABLE Act Moves Forward

While college is worth the time and hard work, it is also very expensive—more so today than just a few years ago. Parents have the ability to open what are called 529 plans for their child, which is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. By the time their child matures to college age, there will hopefully be a significant amount of funds available to offset the costs of higher learning.

Using 529 as a model, in 2014 President Barack Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The legislation allows for a tax free savings plan for American’s with disabilities. The ABLE Act will allow certain individuals with disabilities and their families to set up a tax-exempt savings account. The funds are to be used for:
  • Medical Expenses
  • Maintaining Independence
  • Improving Quality of Life
The ABLE Act mandates each state independently establish and implement ABLE accounts. Now, almost two years later, states are preparing to launch ABLE programs. Nebraska was the first state to offer their version of the program, according to the ABLE National Resource Center. On June 30th, the state began offering ENABLE accounts, people with disabilities can save up to $14,000 a year without having to worry about it affecting their Social Security, other benefits and they can keep their Medicaid cards.

At the moment ENABLE, ABLE TN, and the Ohio STABLE Account program are programs available in the country, but other states are expected to launch their version of ABLE in the coming months. People are signing up for ABLE accounts using online portals.

Leading up to the passing of the ABLE Act, Sara Wolff who lives with Down syndrome wrote an op-ed for Change, she said:

"When the ABLE Act passes into law this year, it will change my life forever. I lost my mother this past year, Connie, to a sudden, rapid illness. With my whole life ahead of me, I need an ABLE account to plan for my future. And, I am not alone, like most individuals with disabilities, people with Down syndrome and other conditions are out living their parents. "

Please take a moment to watch a short video:

If you are having trouble watching the video, please click here. And information about the State of California's upcoming ABLE Act can be found here.

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice as a Social Security Disability advocate.

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